How to Avoid Compressed Air Contaminants for Hospital Applications

The compressed air in hospital applications must meet incredibly high purity standards.

Posted on July 21st, 2022

Compressed air is in almost every department in a hospital. Without compressed air, patients would not be able to receive anesthesia, inhaled medications, breath with the aid of a ventilator. Many even surgically use compressed air to operate.

The compressed air in a hospital or clinic environment must meet incredibly high purity standards. Even the slightest number of contaminants in the airflow could cause life-threatening repercussions.

How Hospitals Use Air Compressors

Air compressors supply compressed air to a wide range of tools and systems within a hospital. Today, most air compressors are non-lubricated to prevent oils from entering the air stream and to meet the medical industry’s standards.

Compressed air uses include:

  • Keeping a patient breathing during surgery
  • Removing the risk of an airborne disease spreading through a building
  • Maintaining a patient’s air supply while on a ventilator
  • Supplying maintenance with the ability to use pneumatic tools
  • Adjusting hospital beds to an upright position
  • Simulating a breathing patient to help train staff members

Compressor Requirements for Hospital Use

In the past, oil was the most dangerous contaminant found in compressed air. Oil lubricated compressors would allow some oil to enter the system, which was unsafe for patients. Oil-free compressors are now installed in hospitals because they are generally simpler to use, safe, and cost-effective. Because of this, the most damaging contaminant found in a compressed air system now is moisture.

Moisture in Compressed Air

Liquid water and moisture vapor (humidity) are the most dangerous contaminants in a hospital’s compressed air system. Moisture causes corrosion, and a system with corrosion is often unreliable and could cause costly damage. In addition, moisture aids in the growth of mould. Mould within a lifesaving device can have disastrous effects on a patient.

Excessive amounts of water in a system can overwhelm high efficiency filters that remove traces of oil and particulate contaminants. It may also damage downstream air treatment equipment. Failure of these air treatment devices can allow contaminants, and even viruses, to reach the hospital personnel and patients.

If moisture damages a compressed air system, it will often be beyond repair. Sometimes you can refurbish a system to use again, but this can be costly. For these reasons, it is essential to remove water and moisture from compressed air.

How to Avoid Moisture in a Hospital’s Compressed Air System

To remove water and moisture from your compressed air system, you must use a water separator and a high efficiency prefilter, with a compressed air dryer following the water separator. The dryer will remove any remaining water vapor that the Water separator or pre-filter could not remove. This will ensure that moisture will not reappear downstream. For a full explanation of why you need both a water separator, prefilter, and dryer, read our other blog HERE.

In addition to water separators, pre-filters and dryers, you should also service effluent drains and seals. No matter how small, a worn-out component could allow contaminants to enter the system.

Other Contaminant Risks

To avoid risk of contaminants, it is also essential to use quality high efficiency compressed air filters. Choose a system that utilises 0.01 micron sterile filter elements and is HTM 02-01 or NFPA 99 certified. These characteristics will ensure that a compressed air system is qualified for lifesaving uses.

Always Guarantee Life-Saving Compressed Air

Hospitals cannot allow for the possibility of contamination in their compressed air stream. Compressed air reaches almost every aspect of a hospital, and patients’ lives depend on it.

Guarantee a hospital-ready compressed air system and supply water separators, compressed air dryers, and compressed air filters with every package. Contact us today to learn more about Walker Filtration’s compressed air solutions for your hospital applications.

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